The Rajasthan High Court Jaipur Bench directed to mark the judgment of the Special Judge, SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Cases as ‘below standard’ and observed that the appellants had been convicted for murder and had to remain behind the bar for 10 years without there being an iota of evidence.

The Bench of Justice Pankaj Bhandari and Justice Bhuwan Goyal observed that “... from perusal of the entire evidence on record, it is clear that his name does not appear in the evidence of any witness except the Investigating Officer. There is not an iota of evidence against him and the learned trial Court has not assigned any reason for convicting appellant – Nirbhay.”

"Since the Court below has convicted appellant – Nirbhay without there being an iota of evidence and appellant – Nirbhay has to remain behind bar for 10 years, judgment of the Officer be marked as below standard." remarked the Bench.

Advocate Kapil Gupta and Advocate Adarsh Singhal appeared for the appellants and Additional Government Advocate Javed Choudhary appeared for the State.

In this case, the son of the complainant went missing and a missing persons report was filed on the next day by the complainant-father of the deceased. The deceased was kidnapped by the appellant/accused- Anil Kumar along with other co-accused and on the same day, a message was received from the mobile phone of the deceased and ransom of Rs. 5 Lakhs was demanded.

An FIR had been registered for the offences under Section 364 of Indian Penal Code and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act. Trial Court acquitted the appellants for the offence under Section 364 IPC and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act and convicted appellant-Nirbhay for the offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and appellant Anil Kumar was convicted for offence under Section 302 IPC. Against the order of the Trial Court appeal was preferred.

It was contended by the counsel for the appellants that neither he was named in the FIR nor any of the 21 witnesses examined had named him except the Investigating Officer.

The Court noted that in the missing person report, there was no mention about the demand of ransom and no allegation was levelled against any person and there was no evidence that the appellant – Anil Kumar and other co-accused abducted the deceased and was murdered because he belonged to S/ST Category.

The Court observed that the entire case rested on circumstantial evidence. There was no last seen evidence, fake recoveries had been made by the Investigating officer and no call detail records had been produced with Certificate under Section 65B of the Evidence Act to establish that calls were made by the appellants to the father of the deceased and ransom was claimed. Moreover, even the recovery of the dead body at the instance of appellant- Anil Kumar was not established as there was no recovery memo of the same.

“...and from the evidence of the doctor, who had conducted the postmortem report, it is clear that the accused-appellants were not present at the time when the dead body was recovered. The probability of the written report (Ex.P-2) being ante-dated cannot be ruled out as the Investigating Officer has made fake recovery of sims after the same were already recovered on the date when the dead body was recovered.” the Court further observed.

Therefore, the prosecution had failed to establish that the accused had committed the offence as there were innumerable possibilities.

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the conviction of both appellants was set aside.

Cause Title- Nirbhay & Ors. v. State of Rajasthan

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